Kelly W. Lancaster

  • "I remember the day Kelly graduated from high school in..."
    - Debra hendricks
  • "Well, dammit, Kelly, where are you off to now? I remember..."
    - CJ Wells
  • "news just reached me, really makes me sad. it was always a..."
    - craig malek
  • "Even tho I knew only a short time, I knew right away you..."
    - Cyd Wright
  • "Kelly had a gift of making you feel like you were the most..."
    - Laney Sims

Kelly Wayne Lancaster, 45, passed away peacefully Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, in Houston following a long illness. Born in Denton, Texas, Nov. 15, 1967, to Wayne and Mary Jane Tuttle Lancaster, Kelly grew up in Nacogdoches and graduated from Nacogdoches High School in 1986. Kelly was a gifted musician who studied under the late Paul Buskirk and honed his skills at weekly jam sessions hosted by the Old Time String Shop. His prodigious ability on guitar and mandolin took him to Houston where he became a well-known and highly respected member of the Houston music scene as a solo artist in addition to his work as an accompanist and a member of various bands. One of his many career highlights was an invitation to play lead guitar on and tour in conjunction with Texas musician Freddy Powers’ album “Hottest Thing in Town” alongside Freddy and guest artist, Willie Nelson. As a regular member of the Houston-based ensemble, The Gypsies, Kelly played for many visiting dignitaries, including former President Richard Nixon. He also recorded with mandolin virtuoso David Peters, the late mandolinist Butch Baldassari, with Alison Krauss, and Atlanta-based banjoist James McKinney, among others. In 1988, Kelly took second place in the National Flatpicking Championship guitar competition at Winfield, Kan. In 1990 and in 1998, he won second at Winfield in the National Mandolin Championship and placed third in that competition in 1991. He was the Texas State Mandolin champion in 2007. Kelly’s original composition for guitar titled “Maydelle’s Reel” has been recorded by various musicians and has become a popular contest and jam session tune. In 2003, Kelly issued his only solo album, “High Lonesome Gypsy,” which garnered critical praise with one reviewer calling him “The American Django,” in reference to Kelly’s favorite musical inspiration, the gypsy jazz master, Django Reinhardt. Kelly is predeceased by his mother and his sister, Carrie Lancaster Fuller, both of Nacogdoches, and his cousin Sally Harrington Owen. He is survived by his father, Wayne Lancaster, and stepmother, Ka’ren; his sister Rebecca Gall and husband John, and their sons, Jonah and Eli; brother-in-law, Greg Fuller and his daughters, Madalyn Grace and Avery Jane; step-sister, Jodi Knight and husband Brian and their sons, Zachary, Dalton and Ian; uncle and aunt Rusty and Martha Harrington; cousin Adam Harrington and wife Kendra and son, John; cousin, Shayne Harrington Nichols and husband Terry and son, Seth; cousin, Josh Owen and his children, Gage, Emma and Maggie; uncle and aunt George and Linda Tuttle and their daughters, Haley Funderlic, Ali Miller, Annie Tuttle, Micki Liddy, Melissa Hartill, Melinda Trammell and Amanda Trammell; aunt, Blanca Harrell Escobar; and uncle, Greg Harrell. Two weeks before he died, Kelly married Marjorie Evans, his sweetheart from 25 years ago, in a beautiful and emotional ceremony in his hospital room. She, along with her four children, Marjorie Myra, Julia, Wells and Blevins, will cherish his love, his music and his memory forever. A private burial will be conducted at Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Nacogdoches on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, with a musical celebration of Kelly’s life to be held in Houston at a later date.
Published in The Daily Sentinel from Feb. 22 to Feb. 23, 2013